DES MOINES — Colfax-Mingo senior Connor Hainer and Collins-Maxwell-Baxter junior Zach Samson have led their respective events all season, and Thursday was the day they got to officially claim those events as their own.
Hainer brought home the county’s first state championship by winning the Class 2A long jump, and Samson followed up not too much later by taking the Class 2A shot put at Drake Stadium. It was both competitors’ first championships.
“I’m finally a state champion, which I’ve been working hard for, so it paid off,” Hainer said. “I’m really just speechless. It’s an awesome feeling.”
“It was fun to be here and be a state champion,” Samson said. “It’s just another great thing to have, and it is a good top to the season. You can’t get much better than that in 2A being the state champion.”
Neither had an easy road to their titles. Hainer led the long jump with a distance of 22 feet, 4.25 inches after the opening round, but was passed by OA-BCIG’s Kaleb Young on his last attempt with a jump of 22-5.75. On Hainer’s final attempt, he completed a season-best jump of 22-10.5 and summed it up with one word — clutch.
“I thought leading it boosted my confidence, but when I scratched I realized it would be a competition,” Hainer said. “I saw (Young’s) jump and knew it was good, and then I saw the scoreboard. Both my dad and my coaches were in the stands telling me to jump high, so I just got (mad) and jumped as far as I could.”
Hainer’s day wasn’t done there, however. He went on to qualify for the 200-meter dash finals with a time of 22.76 seconds, which landed him in fifth place. He also competed in the 400 finals, where he finished 20th with a time of 52.89.
Although Samson ended up winning the shot put by around three inches, he was the only 2A competitor to throw consistently above 50 feet. His throws included his winning 53-0.75 as well as 52-0.5, 52-7.25, 51-10.25, 52 even and 52-8.75. The only drawback of his day is he has yet to top his brother Danny’s school record of 56-5.5. However, he still has plenty of time to try.
“I’ve got another year to catch up to my brother,” Samson said. “He helps me out when he can. He makes sure I’m working on my technique, eating right, getting stronger. Coach Seales is probably one of the best in the state, and I can’t do it without him. He works with me every day.”
Other highlights from around the county include Lynnville-Sully junior Meliek Meyer, who qualified for the finals in both the 100 and 200, and will be joined in the 100 finals by junior teammate Bailee Samson. Meyer won his heats in both events with a time of 11.12 in the 100 and 22.65 in the 200, while Samson earned an 11.53 in the 100 and fell short of qualifying in the 200 with a time of 23.15.
“I was a good start, but I think the pressure is on more so now than last year,” Meyer said. “Having been to Drake and having the fastest time in all classes, people will have expectations. But I’m just running for me and for God.”
Also qualifying for the finals from the Hawks was the shuttle hurdle relay team of seniors Brady Van Wyk and Nathan Russell and juniors Darin Hofer and Caden Doll. The Hawks cruised to a victory in their heat with a time of 1:00.38, and will try to cut down on that time against some stiff competition at 11:40 a.m. Saturday.
“It was one of our better times of the season and we were hoping to cut a little bit more off, but it just feels good to run with these guys for the last time at state. It’s a little surreal,” said Doll, who spent the early part of the season recovering from an elbow injury. “When I was first coming back I wasn’t in the best of shape, but after getting into some meets it started coming back to me. I’m just glad we’re up here running at the big blue oval.”
Field events were particularly busy for area competitors, even outside of the two state champs. Colfax-Mingo senior Chad McLain capped his senior season by medaling in the shot put with a throw of 49-1 to take eighth, while CMB sophomore Patrick Girard was 12th in the event with a distance of 47-11.5.
Also competing in the shot put were Prairie City-Monroe junior Abbi Gilson, who took 14th with a toss of 35-10, and Brady Van Wyk, who placed 17th with a throw of 44-2.75. Lynnville-Sully senior Cale Van Wyk finished 18th in the long jump with a distance of 19-1.75 and junior teammate Payton Haack was 22nd at 17-8.
On the track, PCM junior Lexi Kain began her busy weekend in the 400, in which she placed 19th with a time of 1:02.40. CMB freshman Bridget Hurley also competed in the event, taking 21st with a time of 1:02.93. While Kain wasn’t the happiest with her time Thursday, she will get a few more chances to improve times before the weekend is over.
“I was kind of hoping to break my season record, but sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don’t I guess,” Kain said. “I hope to be back here next year. I’ m going to work harder. This year I had some injuries, some health issues and I didn’t think I ran very well. So, next year I should be back and run better.”
Rounding out the area’s competitors for the day were multiple relays and individuals. The CMB boys shuttle hurdle relay team of Jordan Coughenour, Joey Nissen, Austin Moorman and Bryce Kemp finished 14th with a time of 1:01.26. Individually, Kemp just missed the finals in the long jump with a ninth-place distance of 20-6, and also took 20th in the 200 at 23.56. The Raider girls 4x800 team of Kayla Hennick, Ashley Girard, Shelby Berg and Anne Deutsch finished 21st with a time of 10:22.48.
The Hawk girls’ 4x800 team of Kasiah Ehresman, Cori Rice, Madison Rasmusson and Tara Vos dropped 10 seconds off its season-best time to finished 17th in 10:25.55, while junior Alexa Vander Leest placed 21st in the 3,000 with a time of 11:34.96. Finally, PCM sophomore Rachel Peter placed 20th in the 2A 3,000 with a time of 12:21.72.